The antlerless only modern gun deer hunt was instituted in 2011 to help manage Arkansas’s deer herd. Many areas of the state have herds that have become out of balance because of the sentiment that harvesting a doe is bad for the population.
During the last few decades, does were protected during most of the deer season because biologists needed the population to increase to a sustainable number. However, now that Arkansas is home to roughly 1 million deer, the management strategy needs to change to keep the population healthy.
This increased competition for food results in poorer overall herd health. If an area has more deer than it can feed, all of the deer will exhibit poor health in late winter. High amounts of does also impact the rut, causing it to be long and drawn out with little competition between bucks for breeding and many fawns born in late summer. These late-born fawns have decreased survival rates because they are born when temperatures are extreme and vegetation is less palatable.
By increasing doe harvest, hunters should see a stable, healthy deer herd that exhibits a shorter, more intense rut, with more fawns being produced. Keep in mind roughly 50 percent of fawns produced are bucks for future years.
Here are a few answers to frequently asked questions about the antlerless only modern gun hunt:
- The Antlerless Only Modern Gun Hunt is for private lands only not associated with a WMA. This hunt does not apply to any WMA, NWR, or any other public land.
- The hunt only applies to limited Deer Zones – it is not statewide. See the season details page for a list of the Deer Zones open for this hunt.
- All deer harvested during this hunt count toward the hunter’s seasonal/zone bag limit.
- Archery hunters may take a buck during this hunt, but they must wear hunter orange.
- Youth hunters are not allowed to harvest a buck with a firearm during this hunt – does only. The only way for a youth to harvest a buck during the antlerless only modern gun hunt is with archery equipment; they also must be wearing hunter orange.
- Button bucks, or any buck with less than 2 inches of antler, are legal to be harvested during this hunt. We do not encourage hunters to harvest button bucks, but accidents happen. These deer should be checked as bucks.